A Road Win Or Else

With Wisconsin sporting a 3-5 record on the road this season, the Badgers need to prove they can win in a hostile environment Wednesday at Michigan.

MADISON — The difference between the Wisconsin basketball team as an unstoppable force and your average Big Ten grinder has been obvious this season:

It is those scary road games.

While the Badgers have always enjoyed a dominant home advantage, the numbers for this season's edition of Bo Ryan's squad have been startling. UW is going on an 18-game win streak at the Kohl Center and have won 36 of their last 37 games in Madison. Wisconsin is 3-5 on the road this season, including double-digit leads blown at Penn State and Michigan State. UW proceeded to kill both of those teams at the Kohl Center.

At home, the Badgers shoot 44 percent from three-point range. On the road, that number drops to 31 percent.

For a team that shoots 22 three-pointers a game, a 13 percent difference makes all the difference.

With thee of the next four games on the road, including Wednesday at Michigan, the Badgers will need to figure out the formula they utilize at home and bring it with them on the plane pretty quickly.

"We like [playing on the road], but it's hard to play on the road, even though you like it," point guard Jordan Taylor said, placing extra emphasis on "hard." "We like it, because it is a challenge. A lot of guys like relishing in that challenge. Sometime the ball is not going to drop or fall the way you want it to … it is just a matter of starying confident."

Making the challenge more difficult, Michigan has been streaking hot since the Badgers last saw them. The Wolverines have won four out of their last five and six out of the last eight.

With the resurgence, Michigan has played itself into an NCAA Tournament potential selection with a 7-8 record in the Big Ten — the ultimate motivation for February basketball.

A streaking hot team, loaded with motivation and on the road?

The exact type of team Wisconsin needs to beat to prove their No. 12 ranking is legit.

"They're a confident team, and they're also a team that is kind of on that verge of the tournament, where they want to be," senior forward Keaton Nankivil said. "They definitely have the extra incentive — not that they're not playing hard every game, but at this point in the season, those little things make a big difference. We're expecting them to play hard, have a crowd that's totally behind them and keep doing the stuff they've been doing."

The Wolverine's streak has come on the back of Darius Morris and Zach Novak putting together the best play of their careers at the right time.

Morris averages 15.4 points per game on 50 percent shooting. Novak leads the team in rebounding and is shooting threes at a 37 percent clip in coach John Beilein's bomb-away offense.

Playing at home, it doesn't take either long to get on a roll and feed off the crowds energy.

"They've been playing really well lately," forward Jon Leuer said of the Wolverines. "Obviously, we're going to have to try to limit some of the stuff they do. They have, obviously guys that are tough matchups with [Darius] Morris and a lot of other guys, too. [Zack] Novak's been shooting the ball really well, and they have bigs inside that are physical."

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